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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

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April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Emerging Technology and the "Problem" with 508 Compliance

Richard Schilke (Texas A&M University-Central Texas, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 1:45pm
Technology and Emerging Learning Environments
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Discovery Session
Atlantic Hall
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Discovery Session 1

Many new edtech vendors do not understand technology accessibility requirements. What can you do to help keep your institution out of court?

Extended Abstract

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies or programs that receive Federal financial assistance, like financial aid. Section 508 lists requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, or used within these agencies or organizations. Ensuring all students have access to institutional systems and course content as required by Section 508 has been a major concern for academic technology departments since passage of the Rehabilitation Act. Lawsuits continue to make headlines as major universities and course content organizations struggle to meet accessibility requirements. The money pouring into educational technology at unprecedented rates is attracting a diverse group of new edtech entrepreneurs and companies that lack an understanding of higher education. Many do not understand accessibility requirements or have an extremely narrow interpretation.

The presentation reviews ADA requirements for computer and online technologies and demonstrates the problems users of assistive technology face in accessing technology-based tools. Videos show use cases of vision impaired, hearing impaired, and mobility impaired students attempting to use poorly designed technologies. The presentation further describes approaches for reviewing technology tools for compliance and recommendations for approaching the topic through faculty and staff training.